Ingrid Torjesen Kalfaian started , a clothing line, in January 2012, fulfilling a dream to combine her creativity as a fine artist and her retail experience. She wanted to focus on making comfortable, beautiful styles, which she does with hand-dyed colors and custom printed designs. She quickly learned how to carve block prints and soon began experimenting with dyes and techniques, like using earth-friendly dyes and making her own from the flowers in her garden in Montauk.
From Sept. 8 through 14, she has a pop-up shop at 34 South Etna Street in Montauk, next to . Here's more about how Made in Montauk came to be:
Q: What did you do before starting Made in Montauk?
I worked for many years in the luxury apparel business as a sales associate, then as a store manager in East Hampton. Prior to that I had a graphic design business that I started when I moved out to Montauk in 1994. I also am a seascape painter, so am always busy creating something!
Q: How did you go about starting your business, whether it was taking out a loan, getting investors, or saving up?
Last October when the store I was managing in East Hampton closed and I was laid off, I started to brainstorm on how I could start my own business. I came up with idea and the name: made in montauk, then incorporated it to make it official. Using some of our savings I outlined a plan to design samples to create a beach clothing line. Once my samples were finished, I made appointments with boutiques in the Hampton's and Montauk to show my line. I was thrilled to receive orders from seven stores in only a matter of months from starting my company.
Q: How do you manufacture the clothes?
Everything is made in the USA using organic fabrics like cotton, hemp, bamboo and soy — with the exception of the silk and rayon pieces which are made in China and Bali. I source out the best quality and softest fabrics I can find.
Q: How have you grown in the years since starting the line?
Since the spring I have expanded the line from primarily a "beach" collection to include a "fall' collection, and a "limited edition" collection (hand dyed silk clothing and scarves, some with vintage beaded and embroidered borders and 14k gold thread.)
Q: How do you best describe the line?
Effortless, versatile, chic, eco-friendly.
Q: Are you originally from Montauk? If not, where are you from and how did you end up there?
I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. I also spent the early years of my life in Norway (where my parents are from) and Canada. My husband and I bought our house in 1994 as a summer place, but I decided to move out to Montauk full time soon after — I love it here — the ocean, fresh air and open space.
Q: You seem to sell mainly from home or online, but you opened a pop-up this week. Are you transitioning into opening up a retail store?
I mainly sell to stores and on my website, but I had the opportunity to rent a retail space for a week so I took it. I also rented the same space for one week in August, and it was so successful I decided to do it again! It was a wonderful opportunity to connect directly with my customers I was able to describe the process of hand dyeing and printing. I received amazingly positive feedback, and new customers. Who knows, I may open a full time shop one day too.
Q: What are the benefits of not having your own store?
Well, probably the only benefit is that I have quiet time to spend in my studio creating and planning the next collection. But the advantage of having my own store would be more exposure for my line and the opportunity to meet my customers on a daily basis.
Do you love Made in Montauk clothing? Tell us in the comments below.